Thursday, April 07, 2005

Rubles in Space

Russia's space agency is one can-do organization. Recently they announced the US could buy a Soyuz spaceship and launcher from them for 800 million rubles (about 28 million dollars). Then they announced two more space tourists are in the running for another flight next year.

Meanwhile, the United States is about to return to space next month with another shuttle flight at a potential estimated cost of a billion dollars or more. The US space tourism industry is still getting its feet wet. Although the US became the first country to launch a civilian into suborbital space on a private spaceship last year, so far no paying passengers have even gone suborbital. On the other hand, Russia is choosing who will be the third paying passenger they fly into space next year.

Russia has the same go-slow philosophy as the US does in one area of space flight, though. Russia's space agency announced their intention to go to the moon in 2015-2020 and to Mars after 2030. This timetable is about the same as NASA's.

The likely difference is that Russia will get there cheaper and will be trying to make a buck in the process.

-tdr

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